Discipline is Grace

Discipline is Grace

When you hear discipline, the last thing that comes to mind is grace. It is not atypical for one to associate discipline and punishment instead of discipline and grace. Before I get into this, it is important to understand that punishment is one thing and discipline is another; punishment is done out of vengeance and discipline is done out of love. 

Discipline is done by one who is above you in authority or status, and it is done to teach you the difference between right and wrong. Your superior wants the best for you and discipline is utilized to correct a misdeed. In the same way, discipline in the church is a form of grace. To begin, it means they care enough about you to guide you on the straight and narrow path instead of standing back and letting you go astray. They know as they discipline you that you will get hurt, and it hurts them, but they also understand that you grow from discipline. 

Some people leave the church because they do not understand discipline or the church does not discipline in the proper way. However, you cannot call yourself a Christian without being a part of the church. In David Platt's Follow Me, Platt argues that it is not biblically possible to follow Christ and be a disciple without also joining your life with and devoting yourself to the people of Christ . In the body of Christ, we are called to live alongside each other for the sake of each other in order to care, love, honor, instruct, encourage, pray and discipline one another.  How love is expressed through our longing for our brothers and sisters to grow in their relationship and image of God. 

Discipline brings restoration, therefore it is a clear expression of the love of God. In Dietrich Bonhoeffer's The Cost of Discipleship, Bonhoeffer says "nothing can be more cruel than the tenderness that cosigns another to his sin. Nothing can be more compassionate than the severe rebuke that calls a brother back from the path of sin." In other words, for the sake of holiness, it is the duty of the Church to practice ecclesiastical discipline to keep the church sanctified. The Church must not refuse to face the reality of sin, but instead the Church must drive out the sin from the Church otherwise the Church is held responsible along with the sinner for not addressing the sin. 

If we tolerate sin in the Church, we are discrediting the sacrifice of Christ. We are saying that Jesus being tortured and dying on the cross for our sins was meaningless. Do not be indifferent to the sins of your brothers and sisters, but instead rebuke them according to the Word of God for "all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16).

How To Discipline

Jesus presents us an outline to discipline each other so that restoration can be done in Matthew 18.

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed[f] in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
Matthew 18:15-20

Although it is extremely difficult emotionally on the church and can be misconstrued by the people who do not understand, if somebody is an unrepentant sinner, it is necessary to remove that person from the church as mentioned in 1 Corinthians 5. 

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